Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cameron Frye's Day Off

In the process of making our documentary, we spoke to a professor who actually teaches a course called TEENS IN CINEMA. He made a really interesting comment that was actually echoed by a number of different interviewees. And it was this. The movie may be called Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but it really should be named Cameron Frye's Day Off. Ferris is the central character, absolutely. He drives the movie (and the Ferrari), but Cameron is the one who you sympathize with. Who really goes on a journey.

We spoke with a mustachioed Alan Ruck about how the role came to him, Hughes' psyche and his thoughts on why movies just aren't the same anymore.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The music is the message

John Hughes obviously loved music and discovering bands. So do I, and producer 'Fach' lives and breathes it. It was clear that he should be leading the charge in giving our flick it's musical heartbeat. Our documentary has a young fresh and rocking soundtrack. The following is part 1 of his recounting of why we did what we did. If you're a fan of music, and your a fan of John Hughes' music, then it's a must read:

"The fist time I heard the word “Sonic” used to describe an overall feeling captured in music on film was at David Anderele’s home in Los Angeles, California.

While in production in LA, 2007 our executive producer Michael Baker had mentioned that he had just finished working on a film with a gentleman named Peter Afterman. Peter is a very successful music supervisor with a prestigious career spanning many three decades and Michael suggested that it might be worth meeting with him to discuss all things John Hughes music related.

Peter and I hit it off immediately (We’re both music lovers and weekend basketball players) and after I told him what we were trying to do, the first thing he said in a serious tone was – “You have to talk to David Anderele.”

Anderle enjoyed a diverse and successful career in the west coast music scene from the 60’s though the end of the nineties. To put it lightly, he had worked with the likes of Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Doors and Brian Wilson to name a small few. While presiding over the legendary 80’s label A&M Records David defined the definition of the star driven soundtrack with films like “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.” He had worked very closely with John Hughes and was even involved in producing “We are not Alone” by Karla DeVito on “The Breakfast Club” soundtrack.

David was a highly intelligent, kind and a giving man who was more than willing to talk to us about his creative process how he put those two soundtracks together. In a conversation we had about how he and Hughes came up with the “Sonic” for “The Breakfast Club” he said that he either found or produced music for each of the five characters in the Breakfast Club.

For instance, he said that they devised the music to be character specific. There was a Molly Ringwald theme, a Judd Nelson Theme an Emilio, Alley and Michael Hall theme. Music was used to showcase the feeling that each character was having and who they were inside. Music actually played another character in every one of John Hughes teen films, like when Cameron stares at the painting while The Smiths "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" or Judd Nelson Raises his fist to “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds.

Speaking of which…

Sometime in ealy 2007 my incredible producing partner Kari Holand somehow managed to get an interview with legendary Scottish front man Jim Kerr of the Simple Minds. Jim’s people liked Kari’s pitch so much that they released an article after the interview on Billboard Magazine titled - Simple Minds Hit At Centre of New Documentary.

Sadly, the interview took place in Scotland and our production budget only covered one flight, so I was not able to make it to enjoy backstage concert tickets and an one on one with Jim Kerr. Jim recounted how the song “DYFAM” is still considered his bastard son because it’s the only song he didn’t write but garnered the band the most exposure. It was Keith Forsey wrote “DYFAM”. I did hear though our director Matt Austin Sadowski that the blood sausage with chocolate was to die for. The article can be found here:

There is no doubt that John Hughes loved music. According to Anderle, he may have even loved music more than film. (Hughes’s son owns a record label in Chicago called Hefty Records.) This, evident in his self proclaimed love of The Beatles. As Ferris would say “I am the Walrus.”

Through out the documentary we also had a few standout interviews related to Music that SADLY had to be left on the cutting room floor.

Two bands in particular come to mind. First, a two piece rock band, husband/wife dynamic duo from Wheaton Illinois called Joy Focus. Both Rikk and Holly Currance have been constant supporters of our film from the get go and gave one of the most emotional interview’s in the doc about how John Hughes helped Rikk through the passing of his mother in the music and storytelling of “Sixteen Candles.” And, how he was inspired to write the song “Mr Hughes Come Home” in a world that needs John Hughes to come back more than ever.

It brought tears to all of our eyes, and this coming from a six foot four, two hundred pound, pierced rock star. Awesome. You'll see some moving and hilarious clips from that interview here later.

The other band whose interview that unfortunately didn’t make final cut was John Conley and Ross Levine of “The California Oranges. This rad weezer like outfit drove down the coast all the way from Sacremento to meet us at the Hyland Gardens Hotel in Hollywood, CA. John and Ross spoke candidly about how John Hughes showed that even the geek could get the girl by being in a band.

By the time our film found its way into June of 2008 two very important pieces came together that helped us finalize a soundtrack that the whole team was happy with.

The first was ubber creative film editor Frank “The Gucc” Guidaccio and the second was the Vapor Music Group – Their team consisting of David Hayman, Stacey Horricks and Lyndsay Bates.

“The Gucc” brought his ridiculous ear for music (Having played in several successful rock bands himself) and storytelling. He also had a great relationships with several of the bands that we liked from the Art’s and Craft’s Label. Frank’s first words after watching the film was “I’m going to put the rock and roll into this thing.” We liked him from the start.

I told Frank that I wanted to find music that would capture all the themes that we had been exploring to date as well as select music that would be character specific to “us” and our search for John Hughes.

I can’t speak highly enough of Frank as a person and a professional. Especially when we placed the music.

The second piece of the puzzle became official when we signed a contract with the Vapor Music Group in the summer of 2008. Dave, Stacey and had been with us un officially since 2006. The Vapor posse are were all fans of John Hughes’s films and understood the importance of finding the right “sonic” for our little film, at the right price. I can’t speak highly enough the Vapor team. They provided constant guidance, fabulous creative input and their passion for the film was strong enough to allow us to do a dream soundtrack on a very little budget.

As the blog continues, I’m going to include a few of my dyfam play lists that were considered for the film through countless hours of actual road tripping with my favorite allies, Matt, Kari and Lenny. Thanks for Staying the Course.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Indigo Children are our future

Allan Moyle directed two great films about adolescence : Pump Up The Volume and Empire Records. While shooting his latest film Weirdsville in Toronto, we had an opportunity to sit down with him to talk about the past, present and future of teen film.

Though he is known for his psychedelic outlook on life, we didn't really believe everything he was saying then but now, looking back, we definitely can't help but think that he was identifying something cosmic that would happen with our film.

Here's a little taste of our trippy conversation with Allan Moyle.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

John, we hardly knew ya.

See below for an e-mail we received from someone who worked with John:

"I first met John
when, a few weeks before filming, he decided to replace his long time Production Designer on Uncle Buck. His producer, Ray Hartwick, brought me to Chicago for a meeting. After a walk through of the standing sets with John, and his listening to my suggestions, he asked me to stay and complete the project.

The next year I designed Curly Sue for him. Although that was his last directorial stand, he invited me back numerous times over the next decade for projects that either he had written and handed off to other directors, or that he would indicate he was planning to direct, and then would, once again, hand off. These were, Baby's Day out, Miracle on 34th. Street, Dennis the Menace (again to replace another designer), and The Bee (never produced). Our final collaboration was on a script he had written called "Chambermaid". (This script was eventually produced as Maid in Manhattan and directed by Wayne Wang.) Over the course of a summer, I traveled to Chicago several times to draw sets and discuss ideas with John
either at the house in Lake Forest or at the farm in Wisconsin. We even shot summer background plates and translights.

On my last visit, upon arrival at O'Hare, I received a call from Billy Higgins, John'
s producer at the time, saying that John needed space to work on the script, and that I would be asked to return in a couple of weeks. In fact, John's participation in the film was over, and I was never called back to Chicago. Nor did I hear, personally, from John.

Four years later I was scouting in New Mexico when my cell phone rang. It was John
. No assistants placing the call - just John. He talked with me for over an hour about old projects, new things he was interested in, and just ideas about film making in general. He asked me to read a couple of books that he had optioned. They arrived the next day with a handwritten note expressing the kindest thoughts about my work and ideas. I read the books, and e-mailed my thoughts to John. I never heard back.

That was about six years ago.

John was, as I am sure you have learned, one of the most complex individuals ever. He was a mass of contradictions. Kind, mercurial, generous, and utterly brilliant. I do miss him."